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Statistics on the Arduino (also Pic or any microcontroller)

Normal Distribution Curve

When collecting any data on the Arduino, it won’t be very long before you need to calculate some statistics on that data. While statistics can be a pretty intense mathematical field, some very basic statistics such as calculating the mean and standard deviation can be invaluable for many applications.

Fortunately, it is not only easy to make these calculations, but its usefulness can extend beyond just statistics. Many times data from a sensor may not be stable. Touch sensing is a good example. Each individual value (data point) can vary quite a bit, making it difficult to make an accurate determination. By averaging these values, a better decision can be made.

In a similar vein, by calculating the standard deviation, you can assess the quality of the values obtained. A large deviation from the mean can indicate problems with your sensor.

Design Challenges

Because statistics often require some extensive data collection, normal methods can be too memory intensive for small microcontrollers like the Arduino or ATtiny based designs. Normally each value is stored and, when all the data is collected, various calculations such as the mean and standard deviation are calculated on the data set. Storing this much data can … Read the rest

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Getting Started with Arduino

Arduino

If you have any interest in either electronic circuits or micro-controllers, you have probably heard of the Arduino. Unless you have actually worked with the Arduino, you may only have a vague idea of what all the excitement is all about. If you are one of those who have wondered what the Arduino is, would like to know more about it, this article will answer most of your questions and give you a good grasp of the concepts.

Since this article is geared toward those with no or little prior knowledge of the Arduino platform, you may be inclined to skip it if you are more experienced. There is however, some useful information for the more experienced. You may often find yourself at a loss for words when describing the Arduino or your Arduino based projects to your family and friends. In that case, you might find this tutorial provides a good framework for improving your communication.

What is an Arduino?

The Arduino is a microcontroller based platform. It is not a microcontroller, but is an entire development/engineering environment and eco-system based on a family of microcontrollers from the Atmel corporation.

There are many microcontrollers from various corporations available, and … Read the rest

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Want to Die From Cancer? – Get Chemotherapy

iv drip

A new study (NOTE: link is invalid, see update at end of article) from mainstream sources has not only confirmed that chemotherapy does more harm than good, but discovers the mechanism by which chemotherapy almost ensures death by cancer. This finding is nothing new to those who have much experience with the medical industry’s track record in treating cancer. The typical process experienced by most cancer patients is as follows:

  1. Get biopsy confirming cancer
  2. Become scared and sign up for whatever treatment the doctor recommends – usually chemotherapy
  3. Endure months of living hell (from the chemo) and withdraw from normal life
  4. Doctor declares the cancer is gone and a new day dawns
  5. Six months to a year later, the cancer returns
  6. More chemo, radiation, etc. – nothing works now and despair begins to set in
  7. Doctor says nothing more can be done and gives up
  8. Patient looks to natural alternatives and usually heads to Mexico
  9. By this time, even natural methods don’t work and patient finally succumbs

I don’t have exact statistics, but I would venture that this scenario is played out with some variation about 90% of the time or more. As I mentioned in this article, as … Read the rest

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Recovering YouTube Channel Account

I recently tried to login into my Google account that hosts my YouTube channel. I had set the channel up a few years ago, and only used it once, so I had forgotten the e-mail address associated with it. Google however, lets you login using your channel name so that is what I tried to do. The problem was that since I had set up the channel, I also added a gmail address with the same username.

To my surprise, whenever I tried to login into my YouTube channel, it logged me into the gmail account, and that account had no YouTube channel. After some forum posts, a lot of research and trying a lot of things, I finally recovered my YouTube channel. For those in the same boat, there is a way to recover your YouTube channel, but the standard advice is a bit sketchy, and doesn’t really help without an understanding of what is going on. Here is how Google handles accounts:

Google Account Rules

The way Google sets up accounts, you provide a username and an e-mail address. The wrinkle is the fact that gmail accounts are also Google accounts. What is not obvious, is that they … Read the rest

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New Study Shows Eating Cheese Helps Prevent Diabetes

A new study shows that eating 2 slices of cheese a day cuts the average person’s risk of type 2 diabetes by 12 percent. Of course such findings seem to be causing the health authority mentioned in the article to have a cow:

We recommend a healthy balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables and low in salt and fat. This study gives us no reason to believe that people should change their dairy intake in an attempt to avoid the condition.

The reason being according to the article:

The findings go against current health guidelines, which advise cutting back on dairy products and other high-fat foods to help prevent the illness.

The current low-fat high-carb diet recommended by health authorities is just nonsense. For example, the study also showed similar reductions in diabetes when subjects ate yoghurt instead of cheese. The facts are that quality whole foods such as cheese and yoghurt are not the health demons they are claimed to be. Rather, these are the very foods that will keep us the most healthy.

It is no mere coincidence that the incidence of diabetes began to skyrocket when fat consumption was demonized. Eating healthy fats are how you … Read the rest

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Choosing PCB Layout Software

When you finish the design and prototyping of your project and you want to make a PCB, you need to use some kind of PCB layout software. While there are a plethora of commercial products, most of them expensive – very expensive, there are relatively few that are low cost or free for the open source designer. This guide will look at the options available and make recommendations based on the author’s knowledge and preferences.

NOTE: There may be some other applications than the ones I have mentioned. Since I use Linux on my PC, I have only looked at the packages than run under Linux. I believe the ones listed run under all three mainstream operating systems, but I am only certain about Linux versions.

Online PCB Software

Some commercial PCB fabricators offer their own free online software. While some of these products may be quite capable, they suffer from one huge drawback – you are locked into their services. If you want to have your PCB made elsewhere, you are out of luck. For that reason I don’t give these programs a second look.

Eagle CAD

screen shot of Eagle CADThe Eagle CAD package offers both schematic and PCB layout programs. It … Read the rest

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Reverse Polarity Protection Circuits

Reverse Polarity Alarm

Many circuits can benefit from protection against accidental reverse polarity.While most can be protected by polarized connectors to the power source, many hobbyist circuits and kits can be powered by jumper wires, thus eliminating this simple type of polarity protection. In these cases, a reverse polarity circuit would be a very useful addition to your circuit.

In this guide, we will explore three simple methods for adding this protection to your projects. This overview will only cover protection circuits on the high (positive) side of the circuit. Each of the protection methods can also be applied to the low (ground) side. The low side versions of these circuits offer the benefit of using NPN & N-channel devices instead of their PNP or P-channel equivalents, the former which are often cheaper, more readily available and sometimes higher performance. However, low side circuits change the voltage level of the ground path which could cause issues for some circuits.

If you wish to study low side approaches, App Note AN636 from Maxim is a good one to consult. I think for most circuits, the high side versions work very well and will prevent any possible problems with a low side approach. Therefore, we … Read the rest

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Secret Arduino Voltmeter – Measure Battery Voltage

A little known feature of Arduinos and many other AVR chips is the ability to measure the internal 1.1 volt reference. This feature can be exploited to improve the accuracy of the Arduino function – analogRead() when using the default analog reference. It can also be used to measure the Vcc supplied to the AVR chip, which provides a means of monitoring battery voltage without using a precious analog pin to do so.

I first learned of this technique from these articles – Making accurate ADC readings on the Arduino, and Secret Voltmeter. In this article, I have incorporated some additional improvements.

Motivation

There are at least two reasons to measure the voltage supplied to our Arduino (Vcc). One is if our project is battery powered, we may want to monitor that voltage to measure battery levels. Also, when battery powered, Vcc is not going to be 5.0 volts, so if we wish to make analog measurements we need to either use the internal voltage reference of 1.1 volts, or an external voltage reference. Why?

A common assumption when using analogRead() is that the analog reference voltage is 5.0 volts, when in reality it may be quite different. … Read the rest

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Arduino Leonardo versus Uno – What’s New

Arduino Leonardo

Arduino’s latest incarnation – the Leonardo is now shipping. It is the first Arduino to use Atmel’s ATmegaXU4 series chip with built-in USB. This change is big and it has big benefits.

Early Arduinos required a serial port connection to your computer for programming. As the platform matured, the board acquired a USB to serial conversion chip. The latest version of the classic Arduino board – the Uno – still uses this method, although with the Uno a switch was made from an expensive FTDI conversion chip to using an ATmegaXU2 series microcontroller chip. This chip is a cousin to the U4 series, but lacks analog input pins.

Using a USB conversion chip was only a slight improvement over using a serial connection. It removed the requirement for a special conversion cable, but added significant cost to each and every board. With the Uno, the switch to using the ATmeag8U2 lowered the cost by a few dollars, but it seems kind of silly to use an entire microcontroller just to perform USB to serial conversion for another microcontroller of roughly the same capability.

This ironic situation is finally resolved with the introduction of the Leonardo. Not only does this … Read the rest

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Guide to Arduino and AVR Communications

easytransfer_serial_arduino_communications_library

If you spend any time playing with Arduinos, ATtinys or looking at AVR spec sheets, you soon encounter a bewildering smörgåsbord of acronyms for various communication protocols. With examples such as I2C, LIN, SPI, TWI, USI, etc., it can get pretty confusing. If you don’t believe me, just take a look communications column for Digikey’s listing for the ATmega series chips. Confused yet?

What do these terms mean? How do you choose the chip that meets your needs? How do you make use of these protocols?  In this article, I take the mystery out of all these acronyms, and provide a brief overview of what they mean and how you use them in your projects. We’ll examine each of the protocols, including some of the terms that are not exactly protocols, and survey some of the software libraries available to make communications easier.

Communication Protocols

SPI

The SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface) is the protocol used by the ICSP (in-circuit serial programming) facility transmitted over the ubiquitous 6-pin (2×3 pin) header used to program AVR chips. It is useful not only for programming AVR chips, but also for other types of communications between ICs. From Wikipedia:Movie Carol (2015)

SPI interface diagram

The

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